The Two Noble Kinsmen | Study Guide

William Shakespeare & John Fletcher

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The Two Noble Kinsmen | Characters

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Character Description
Arcite Arcite, a young soldier and nobleman, is Palamon's first cousin and a nephew of Creon, King of Thebes. Read More
Palamon Palamon, a young soldier and nobleman, is Arcite's first cousin and a nephew of Creon, King of Thebes. Read More
Emilia Emilia, a gentle maiden, is an Amazon noblewoman who would prefer to remain unmarried. Read More
Theseus Theseus, Duke of Athens, is a strong, honorable, and respected military leader. Read More
Jailer The jailer is a middle-aged commoner in charge of the jail in which Arcite and Palamon have been imprisoned. Read More
Jailer's daughter The jailer's 18-year-old daughter is preoccupied with romance. She falls head-over-heels for Palamon, frees him from prison, and loses her mind because of unrequited love. Read More
Wooer A kind and patient young man, the wooer is a commoner in love with the jailer's daughter. Read More
Artesius Artesius is a capable soldier who attends Theseus's wedding. Theseus wishes to send him to lead the fight against Creon, but the Duke is finally persuaded to go himself.
Bavian One of the countrymen plays Bavian, a fool dressed as a bavian, or baboon, during the dancing at the May Day celebration.
Boy Accompanying Hymen at Theseus's wedding procession, the boy sings a song of blessing as he scatters flowers.
Jailer's brother The jailer's brother helps care for the jailer's daughter after she goes mad. He advises his brother to humor her, as he does himself.
First countryman Part of the troupe that performs for the Duke in the forest, the first countryman tells Arcite of the games that will take place.
Second countryman The second countryman rails against the woman who has not shown up to perform the traditional Morris dance.
Third countryman The third countryman is confident the Schoolmaster will show up to lead the troupe. He announces the arrival of the jailer's mad daughter and hopes she will join the dance.
Fourth countryman Like the others, the fourth countryman is enthusiastic about performing for the Duke.
Countrywomen The four countrywomen (Barbary, Fritz, Luce, and Maudlin) perform a Morris dance for the Duke and his entourage in the forest.
Doctor Advising the jailer and the wooer how to treat the jailer's daughter's madness, the doctor recommends they humor the young woman and the wooer pretend to be Palamon, courting and kissing her.
Epilogue speaker The Epilogue speaker tries to gain the favor of the audience and promises better plays still to come.
First friend The jailer's first friend brings news of Arcite and Palamon's fight in the forest. He also humors the jailer's daughter in her madness.
Second friend The jailer's second friend arrives with the news Palamon has cleared the jailer's name. The second friend pities the jailer's daughter and humors her in her madness.
Gentleman An Athenian gentleman is sent by the Duke to inform Emilia of the arrival of Arcite's and Palamon's knights for the contest.
Herald The herald escorts the wounded cousins, Arcite and Palamon, to Theseus after the battle in Thebes, revealing their names, status, and physical conditions.
Hippolyta Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, veteran of battle, and Emilia's older sister, marries Theseus.
Hymen The god of marriage, Hymen leads Theseus and Hippolyta's wedding procession.
Arcite's knights Three knights accompany Arcite to his final contest with Palamon. Though they have no speaking roles, they pray to Mars with Arcite before the match.
Palamon's knights The three knights accompanying Palamon in his contest with Arcite face execution bravely and donate their purses as a dowry for the jailer's daughter. Theseus takes them into his service rather than let them die.
Messengers Several messengers announce news in the play, mainly about the contest between Arcite and Palamon and the execution of the loser.
Nell Nell is one of the countrywomen who perform the Morris dance for the Duke on May Day.
Pirithous Pirithous is Theseus's closest friend and has shared dangerous adventures with him. He is never far from Theseus's side and they never quarrel.
Prologue speaker The Prologue speaker compares new plays to maidens and states the play's story comes from Chaucer. He adds the present work may not reach Chaucer's greatness but hopes it will entertain the audience nonetheless.
First queen The first queen takes the lead in imploring Theseus to fight Creon so the three queens may retrieve their dead husbands' bodies for proper burial.
Second queen The second queen implores Hippolyta to plead with Theseus to fight against Creon.
Third queen The third queen begs Emilia to intercede with Theseus to persuade him to fight against Creon. Emilia empathizes with the widow's grief.
Schoolmaster The schoolmaster, named Master Gerald, directs the countryfolk and, with inflated language, introduces their performance to the Duke and his entourage.
Servant An unnamed servant relays the events of the contest between Arcite and Palamon to Emilia, who waits nearby but cannot bear to watch.
Taborer With his fellow countrymen, the taborer performs on his drum (tabor) for the Duke on May Day.
Valerius Valerius, a Theban, fetches Arcite and Palamon when their uncle Creon calls them to battle against Theseus.
Woman An unnamed woman attends Emilia in the garden near the prison. The two women discuss flowers, maidenhood, and men.
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